Sunday 25 February 2018

Sheehy wary of backlash from Cork ahead of Munster decider

Mikey Sheehy. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Mikey Sheehy. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mikey Sheehy's Kerry career spanned 15 seasons and 49 championship games. It also yielded eight All-Ireland medals and a place in the history books, but despite all his success, Cork still managed to leave their mark.

His first summer as a Kerry footballer ended with a loss to the Rebels; his last act in a Kerry jersey in the championship was a defeat at their hands.

Of the 17 times he faced Cork in the championship those were the only two defeats, but they have left him wary all the same.

"We were well beaten by Cork in 1974 Munster final. I cannot remember much about it, but we were well beaten," he said.

"I remember Mick O'Connell coming on with 10 or 15 minutes to go on a wet day for his last game with Kerry. It was a bad start, getting well beaten by Cork in your first Munster final.

"I had a bad record against Cork at underage, losing two Munster finals. Once was above in the old Athletic Grounds and here in Killarney the following year we were five up on Cork and they got a late goal when Jimmy Barry Murphy put the ball on a plate for some fella. They went on to win the All-Ireland handy enough afterwards.

"The first time I had success against Cork was in a U-21 game up in Skibbereen and then the win in 1975 changed all of that. But there were some massive battles and tight games along the way in that era.

"I finished my career losing to Cork in that replay in Killarney in 1987. They were there at the end and I can tell you they are still there."

Cork head to Killarney this weekend as 11/2 outsiders, with Kerry (1/7) expected to secure a fifth Munster title on the bounce.

Cork's league form in Division 2 was unremarkable and they followed that up by flirting with disaster in their championship opener away to Waterford. They scraped past Tipperary last time out, but Kerry selector Sheehy pointed out that many of these Cork players have form for showing their best against the Kingdom.

"I think they are much maligned. They have been unlucky and it seems there is a lot of criticism in the county, but when we are facing them on Sunday we will take it with a grain of salt," Sheehy said.

"Go back to 2015 in the drawn game. Cork should have beaten us comfortably enough as they were five points up with about 15 minutes to go and we got a very dubious penalty which brought us back into the game.

"Cork still led by a point in injury-time and we got Fionn's (Fitzgerald) famous kick. Some fellas said he was going for a pass, but he popped it over anyway.

"Now we improved in the replay, but a lot of those Cork players are still involved and we have a lot involved, so we know the quality they have.

"They were in Division 2, but that makes no difference. Form goes out the window and Cork have had two tough battles that they came out of."

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Irish Independent

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